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Everything posted by ep1str0phy

  1. AOTW Oct.2-9. John Patton "Let 'Em Roll"

    I've got to give it up for Green on this one. This is one of those pre-rare groove sides where GG still sounds like a katana blade... Grant had a fine track record with organists, and he seems particularly inspired here (not afraid to double-time, comp a little heavy). The session as a whole is a little formulaic, but it transcends the trappings of soul grease with some fine blowing. I actually bought this set because it had the same instrumentation as "Street of Dreams" (one of my all time favorites). This is an altogether different monster, however; "SOD" is all romance and noir, whereas "Let 'Em Roll" is straight-up, black bottom funk. Different sides of the hotel, I guess.
  2. October Conns!

    I guess I'd call it more of a "state of mind." Or lack thereof.
  3. October Conns!

    Does anyone else find it strange that these aren't listed on the BN website? Pushing for Monktrane, I guess (although most of the interested parties already own it).
  4. Upcoming Cream CD/DVD

    Cream is the reason I'm here, although the music hasn't aged as well with me as it probably could have. Some of it is phenomenal, some of it is plainly good, some of it is remarkably dated. One thing's for sure--Cream was a band of consummate technicians, head and shoulders above the vast majority of the late-60's rock pantheon. At their best moments, no one was better (although some were probably as good). I've heard practically all of the recorded material from the Albert Hall dates... not unimpressive, to be sure. Ginger still plays like a madman (his post-Elvin Jones approach has been tempered by some solid afrocentricism), Jack is heavy (although his vocal range has diminished somewhat), and Clapton is... Clapton. My old guitar teacher was a Clapton acquaintance--said Clap practiced himself silly, could play changes and all that. My primary gripe is that Slowhand has gotten far too refined for this sort of material... it just screams for youth, vigor, and edge--recklessness, one might say. Clapton's salad days are behind him, even if Baker and Bruce still want to play ball. Of the Cream material I've heard... I keep coming back to "Wheels of Fire." "Fresh Cream" is poorly produced, but well played. "Disraeli Gears" has some very dated cuts, but it's a fun listen. Make no mistake, "Goodbye" and the two "Live Creams" have some of the best live Cream available anywhere--and that includes the "legendary" bootleg recordings. I was actually a little disappointed when I heard what are reputedly the "best" of the bootlegs (Grande Ballroom, etc.)... even in its finest moments, Cream couldn't escape its idiom. Clapton was in this urban blues bag, and even if Ginger and Jack wanted to go all Ornette Coleman on him, there was only so far the music could go (without collapsing in on itself). That's the great paradox for me: for all its experimental vigor, Cream couldn't escape its self-imposed conventions. That being said, it was great for what it was--a rip-roaring, hardcore, ahead-of-the-pack rock band. I think the dissolution of the band was a necessary evil. Clapton was able to dig deeper into his bag, producing some great pop/blues records that, while low on adventure, remain high on craft. Jack was able to fulfill his dreams of working in a high-profile progressive jazz outfit, cutting some sick sides with Tony Williams, Carla Bley, and John Stevens, among others. I'd say that Jack's back catalogue is one of the greatest in modern (jazz-?)rock; records like "Songs For A Tailor" and "Harmony Row" are everything Cream couldn't be... Ginger, of course, went on to helm Airforce, work with Fela Kuti, cut some pseudo-free sides, and earn the respect of the drum establishment (challenging Elvin to a drum battle or two). I don't think I'd say this if I were my younger self, but Cream was probably less than the sum of its parts. Fortunately, those parts were pretty valuable in the first place... and hey, I'll always love "Wheels of Fire."
  5. I Hate that little strip of tape.....

    Man, I've gotten blisters from tape residue. Price tags (directly on the CD) are worse, though.
  6. Monk/Coltrane vs Bird/Diz

    Should we have an option for "I don't care either way?" I can't choose... That being said, there was something really "fairytale" exciting about the Bird/Diz set... it didn't hurt that the Uptown release was a more grassroots project, goaded forward by the mutual enthusiasm of hardcore jazzbos. The Monk/Coltrane release just didn't have that--the whole project seems rife with marketing design and timely, self-propelled buzz. This doesn't affect the music of course... but the Uptown release was a fan baby. Just a little more fun--and inspiring, I guess. That being said, I'm a sucker for Monktrane, so...
  7. AOTW October 9- 15

    There's Tubby Hayes and then The Jazz Corps. And didn't he sit in with Stitt once? ← There was that live date with the Mothers of Invention... oh, and that tape of Rahsaan and Jimi Hendrix (never to see the light of day... heard it didn't do either of them justice, anyhow).
  8. AOTW October 9- 15

    A beautiful album. Rahsaan didn't do nearly as many sideman dates as I would have liked, but this one stands for posterity. Haynes gets in some tasty licks, Grimes is rock solid, and Flanagan is in excellent form. The repertoire is excellent, too. This is one of those hard bop dates that just simmers with energy, passion unhinged but truly disciplined. Rahsaan is the real hero for me, though. Like Eric Dolphy, he has the power to elevate, embolden, and intensify even the most banal of circumstances; throw him into a potent pot, and the stew just cooks. Even today, all the histrionics and wild antics belie the sheer power and heart in his playing. I'm up in Berkeley right now, and even the so-called "hip" set isn't all that hip to Rahsaan... too out there, by reputation. But, as "Out of the Afternoon" clearly shows, Rokirk could move mountains stationary--all by blowing. Check out Some Other Spring for some remarkably restrained blowing... that cat had soul. Some great memories of this date... when I was a little younger, I made my mom a mix of some jazz tracks (I'm a first generation musician, so it's reverse indoctrination)... threw Fly Me to the Moon on there. Man, that mix is still in my mom's car. I whistle along to Rahsaan's solo whenever I'm back in town... Bright moments.
  9. Thirsty Ear Corner

    Fair enough... and, really, nothing's ESP caliber these days (and I never meant to say that the Blue Series was--only that certain superficialities incite comparison). In some way, however, I admire the foolhardiness of the whole Thirsty Ear thing. The savvier set can (and seems to) see through the pomp, but there's something amusing (?) about the Blue Series' self-conscious revolution-speak... and if it gets the hipster crowd listening, then why not? Ornette is miles above this stuff, but there's no doubt that a title like The Shape of Jazz to Come is as pretentious as it gets. Regardless, sensationalistic marketing practices can and sometimes do make for fascinating events. Musical quality is another thing. The Atlantic Ornette material is ostensibly classic. I still believe that the Blue Series BS--like it or not--shouldn't diminish the quality of certain recordings (i.e., the Shipp sides, which are, to these ears, excellent). But yeah, there are clunkers. Man, that Albert King disc was totally left field. The set seems good, though (horns?!).
  10. Thirsty Ear Corner

    No such insinuation was made by me. I specifically referred to the unintelligibility of Braxton, Ornette and Taylor regarding their writing/speaking about music. ← ...and--to clarify--I did not mean to imply any level of "misunderstanding" on Akanalog's part. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of all the disgust. On what levels are we dealing? What's the problem? The music? The ideology? Does the latter denigrate the former? I'd just like to hear the opposite viewpoint (for edification, anyway). Oh, and I didn't mean to say that Braxton, Ornette, Taylor (et al.) speak nonsense. Quite the contrary--I think there's a lot of depth and intelligence to what (on first glance) may seem like pretension and incoherence. The point is, whatever one's take on musical ideology/verbage, the sound is left to speak for itself.
  11. Happy Birthday John Coltrane

    Man, it's today? I'm listening to Kulu Se Mama right now--I actually bought it yesterday (completely unawares--spun it for the first time at 12:00 AM). Heavy.
  12. Albert Ayler: New Grass

    Don't know if this has been discussed elsewhere, but I thought somebody would care (in a negative sense, perhaps)... Limited edition Verve re-issue, 24-Bit w/digipack packaging. Re-released on 9/13/2005. I'm listening to it right now (thoughts later).
  13. Albert Ayler: New Grass

    You know, half the time I get the impression that Trevor MacLaren doesn't know what he's doing. Sure, he's well intentioned and all... New Grass is a new spin for me. I love Ayler madly, enough to divine the "purpose" in his missteps. That being said, the album is more or less what I expected--strange, schizophrenic, and just a little unsettling. Part of what makes Ayler so difficult is the depth of his sincerity, a force that seems to transcend whatever idiom he's playing in. There's just so much pathos--bathos?--to that sound that it's difficult not to take Ayler as serious as a heart attack. I agree with the others--this isn't his best work (my favorite is Vibrations)--but it certainly isn't dross. Every album is like a tome, and the entirety of the Ayler catalogue is some beautiful terror.
  14. Members, Don't Git Weary

    Good God, I can't get enough of this album. On the face of it, Members seems like your standard late-60's fare--electric bass, hip grooves, Joel Dorn production. It's also phenomenally short, clocking in at just a little over 30 minutes (flat). What the album lacks in volume, however, it more than compensates for in verve. There's just so much to love. Roach leads a proto-Music Inc. group comprised of Gary Bartz (alto), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Jymie Merritt (electric bass), and Stanley Cowell (piano and el. piano). The music is nothing too groundbreaking--mainstream jazz in a post-bop vein, reminiscent of some Strata East cuts--but it’s quite affecting nonetheless. Even with the short playing time, there’s more than enough to merit repeated listenings. Tolliver, especially, has never sounded better--he carries a great deal of the solo weight here, tearing through the ensemble with a facility, range, and power seldom demonstrated elsewhere. Bartz keeps his improvisations grounded, favoring light, earthy statements that contrast with Tolliver's fire. Cowell and Merritt keep the proceedings moving, aggravating, abetting the front-line torrent. Roach plays above his usual standards, showcasing a dizzying polyrhythmic attack that threatens to overwhelm the proceedings, tipping the ensemble work just so--but never falling into chaos. Fine compositions all around--three Cowell tunes, one apiece by Roach, Merritt, and Bartz (no Tolliver cuts, curiously). Strong contributions, but the ensemble takes them some place special. Listen to Effi, especially--when Tolliver starts soaring over the din, stretching his upper register, challenging the roar of the rhythm section, the effect is breathtaking. There are moments like that all over this album. Caveat--the Koch Jazz edition (the one I purchased) has slightly sub par sound quality. This one deserves the deluxe treatment.
  15. Members, Don't Git Weary

    I don't know... I can't really listen to this set with respect to social/historical context. Max's "sidemen" are such a dominant force that I can't fault the album on account of the leader's idiosyncrasies. I came into this one a lot later--after years and years of pop inculcation and what not--and it still sounds fresh in spite of itself. The fact that the guys are carrying on like they are even with electric instrumentation and Max's histrionics makes the album all the more extraordinary. Still, I wasn't around back then, and I can only imagine what it must have been like in 1968...
  16. Thirsty Ear Corner

    -_- That actually made me laugh out loud. Still, precisely what's your beef with the guy? Pretension is one thing, but that doesn't keep me from listening to, say, Anthony Braxton, who wrote the book on unintelligibility (and could easily be taken the wrong way). Not to put DJ Spooky on the same level as Braxton (et al.), but a lot of the greats--Ornette, Cecil Taylor, etc.--sound just as (verbally) inchoate. Now, if you hate the sounds... that's a different story. But a BS ideology shouldn't denigrate the music. If a hundred monkeys pounded out Ascension tomorrow, I'd buy their record. Maybe a banana.
  17. Thirsty Ear Corner

    I can certainly understand the criticism. No direct problems on this end, though. I guess it's just that the Blue Series commodifies innovation. Well-packaged, no-fuss, tied together with a nice little mission statement (and some zeal for measure). Good marketing, in short. The level/sort of experimentation cultivated by the Blue Series has been brewing since lord knows when, but the possibilities needed to be idiomized--free hop or whatever--for mass consumption. The music may not be better, but it's easier to digest this way--and half the revolution is in the hype, so at least it feels like we're making progress. Maybe some new labels can take the opening and run with it. That being said, the music is fine. I like that they're giving the young turks some press... BS... yeah, but that's the charm of it all for me. The younger generation (I'd include myself) came up in a post-free, post-rap environment where a synoptic view of the improv lexicon required detective work... there's nothing altogether epochal going on, so it's build your own revolution. But the angle is all different--improvisers aren't just coming out of jazz anymore, and a great deal of young cats lack discipline--or a sense of boundary, for that matter. The results may not sound pristine--or even altogether genuine--but I'll be damned if it isn't fun watching (hearing) people flail.
  18. Thirsty Ear Corner

    While I haven't heard that much Thirsty Ear material, I've always been impressed by the label aesthetic. The Blue Series is one of the rightful heirs to the ESP-Black Saint/Soul Note-Hat experimental tradition. The strong avant bent would be enough, but there's something wonderfully cohesive about the series oeuvre. At the same time, the Blue Series has one of the finest collaborative rosters of any modern improv label. There's something going on, a school, an ideology--there's this Blue Note vibe to the whole thing. That being said, I really love the Shipp albums. Equilibrium is my favorite, melding "contemporary" urban sounds with an Andrew Hill slant. I mean, where are you going to hear Khan Jamal these days? The DJ Spooky set--the non-remix album with Joe McPhee, Shipp, etc.--is pretty nice, too. I'm pleased to think that the rap/electronica contingency can make a positive contribution to improvised music--even pushing the boundaries a bit. There's a sort of manic recklessness to the younger cats, a willingness to experiment without recourse to conventional notions of "acceptability." I just hope that--somewhere down the line--the "urban" inflections don't sound as dated as they could.
  19. Happy Birthday Marion Brown

    Great news! I pray that he's feeling healthier these days (granted all the reports).
  20. CBBB - OPEN DOOR (Muse 5056)

    I've slowly accumulated several of the Rearward sets--all phenomenal. I actually bought the Sahib Shihab on a lark some ways ago... I was shocked at how good it was. Stellar repertoire, deft solos, and phenomenal sound quality make for some terrific listening. Shihab has always been the surprise of the CBBB for me--wonderfully versatile and quite idiosyncratic. An underrated baritone for sure... his trenchant, exciting solos on the Rearward set could be the highlight of the series.
  21. Happy Birthday Marion Brown

    A little late, but I'm a big fan of Marion Brown (one of my favorite altos). "Three for Shepp" is an all time favorite of mine. While I'd love to see him out and about again, he's already given more than enough... I just wish more of his old material would get reissued. Damn it, Impulse (although I'm pretty sure most of it was reissued--in excellent fidelity--in Japan some while ago).
  22. Night of the Cookers

    Long time listener, first time caller. I didn't see an actual topic for this gig, although it's been mentioned often enough. Regardless, I went to the 8 p.m. show last night... it was pretty hot. The lineup was phenomenal, the compositions were tight, the playing was excellent. Not one person should be worried by the recent lineup shuffle. Tolliver and Harper carried out the front line duties commendably. Harper was breathing fire from square one, intermittent microphone problems notwithstanding. Tolliver started off a little cold, but warmed up fast--by the second number, he was breaking the place apart. John Hicks was wonderful--I sat right in front of him--and provided an excellent foil for the horns' derring-do. Dwayne Burno and Roy McCurdy--the two "lesser" (take or leave the term, if you will) names in the group--held up the bottom end just fine. Altogether, the band was shockingly flexible, wrangling the difficult charts with ease. Then again, at this level, superlative is kind of redundant, right? I can't recall all the numbers, but they did play Harper's "Thy Will Be Done," "Pensativa," and "Right Now." Tolliver really let 'em have it with the last one... made me seriously reconsider his playing. The cat has a phenomenal command of the middle register, juggling loping harmonic twists with staggering timbral control. It's almost a pity he didn't play on McLean's version (right after the show, I ran out and bought "Jacknife," by the way). If you're in the bay area, drop what you're doing. Who knows how long these guys are going to last? It's nice to see that what once verged on the avant-garde--now the old guard--is still playing with fire. Thoughts? Violent criticism?